On eve of Afghanistan offensive General McChrystal in hot water amid Rolling Stone story
A hierarchical undercutting in the decision making process in any work environment lends itself to a severe tongue lashing, however, in the military world it requires one of two things- resignation or firing.
This is exactly the position current Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal finds himself in.
A senior Capitol Hill source says McChrystal will resign, leaving the White House in a pickle as the summer offensive in Afghanistan, already causing heartburn, with no other choice but to regroup with new leadership.
Insiders are also saying Congress is already seeking McChrystal’s replacement and names like General James Mattis of the US Joint Forces Command and Lieutenant General William Caldwell, the current commander of Nato’s Training Mission in Afghanistan are the frontrunners.
However, President Obama hasn’t indicated which way he will go and it is no secret the president’s choice in words calling “Afghanistan the right war,” could come back to haunt him. Americans have lost interest in the Middle East War effort and losing soldiers on the battlefield when the Administration refuses to kill the opium poppy fields is not helping shore up support on the home front.
As word spread yesterday of the Rolling Stone story a universal consensus formed that McChrystal and his entourage crossed the sacred line by criticizing the President and his staff.
“This is clearly a firing offense,” said Peter Feaver, a former official in the Bush White House and strong backer of a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan in a Washington Post story.
But military experts also question relieving McChrystal of his leadership role on the eve of a major offensive in Kandahar, which is the most critical of the war, could hurt the Afghanistan war effort. It has also been said that McChrystal was not onboard with the July 2011 timetable for withdrawal.
The Rolling Stone story reads in part; “According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked ‘uncomfortable and intimidated’ by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. ‘It was a 10-minute photo-op,’ says an adviser to McChrystal. ‘Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f-ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.’”
President Barack Obama said earlier that McChrystal is guilty of “poor judgment” but said he will wait to pass judgment until the two meet at the White House.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and his aides also made disparaging comments about Vice President Joe Biden, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and others in the story titled “The Runaway General.”
“Gen. McChrystal is on his way here, and I am going to meet with him. Secretary Gates will meet with him as well,” Obama said Tuesday evening. “I think it’s clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgment, but I also want to talk to him directly before I make any final decisions.”
Asked earlier in the day whether McChrystal’s job is on the line, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that “everything is on the table.”
McChrystal apologized for the article Tuesday morning.
“It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” McChrystal said in a statement. “Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war, and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”
Nevertheless McChrystal received harsh words from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “I read with concern the profile piece on Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the upcoming edition of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine,” Gates said in a statement. “I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case. We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world.”
“Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions. Gen. McChrystal has apologized to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologize to them as well,” Gates said. “I have recalled Gen. McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person.”
Cable television pundit Sean Hannity said he did understand General McChrystal’s frustration “with how the Obama administration has mishandled the ‘War on Terror.’ “I don’t think Obama takes his role as commander in chief as seriously as he should.”
“What are we to think of a president who only sends 20-to 30-thousand more soldiers in a war in Afghanistan, but not that amount the generals on the ground ask for?” Hannity questioned. “What about a president who resists using the term ‘war on terrorism?’ I don’t think this president is seeking victory in Afghanistan.”
With a drug war raging in Mexico, a defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Gulf oil spill disaster and a trouble economy will President Obama rock the boat in Afghanistan or move forward with more of the status quo?